Remarkable things are happening on the iPhone just about every day, and Cave Co. continues to astound us with their ports of Japanese arcade shooters. Like their previous game Espgaluda II, Dodonpachi Resurrection is a brilliant-looking, elegantly designed ‘bullet hell’ shooter with a complex scoring mechanic. However, we found Dodonpachi to be even better than Espgaluda II.
The difference to us is Dodonpachi’s incredible iPhone mode, which introduces an ‘S and M’ gauge. When you’re dishing out pain on your enemies, your S meter (that’s ‘slaughter’, not ‘sadism’) will go up, giving your shots a power boost but also decreasing your multiplier. When it hurts so good and you steer your ship close to enemy bullets, your M meter (for ‘menace’, not ‘masochism’) will go up, giving you a higher score multiplier.
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Rewarding you for narrow escapes is what puts this game over the top. Just like how passengers would give you tips for a near-miss in Crazy Taxi, Dodonpachi encourages you to dive headfirst into danger and will reward you with 1000x combo multipliers.
Oh, but the levels of shooter insanity go far deeper than that. You have two attacks: regular guns and a laser, which is necessary to deflect some enemy laser attacks. You have bombs which deploy automatically when you take a hit (serving as shields), but can also be deployed with a button press. And then there’s the hyper gauge, a megablast that bathes the screen in death. You can even spin around the hyper gauge to set it into overdrive and collect ridiculously high combos.
Dodonpachi Resurrection is a game where your high score can be measured in the billions. The astonishing levels of complexity in the scoring system mean you have to play strategically, while also engaging your hindbrain survival instincts. Since the game itself is not too long, and you’ll have unlimited continues (though continuing will reset your high score), many players will find the real lasting appeal of the game lies in the OpenFeint leaderboards and achievements.
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You can also play through the same levels with a few different ‘arcade mode’ variations, which each have their own separate leaderboards and play mechanics. There are also several different ships to try.
Since it’s exclusive to just newer iPhones and iPod Touches, Dodonpachi will run either very smoothly or not at all on your device. If you’re going to buy it, make sure you have a compatible device first.
Dodonpachi Resurrection is a real gem on the iPhone, and a mobile port of a game like this would not have been considered possible a few years ago. It’s wildly over-the-top and hectic beyond belief, and that’s just the way we like our shoot ‘˜em ups.